Culture can be...well...difficult. It’s difficult to foster, evolve, and even explain. At a company like NationBuilder, culture is the oil of our engine. We need it to drive our mission forward - which makes it especially vulnerable to misconception if explained in the wrong way.  

It’s not rare for tech companies to make culture their calling card. Pictures of well-stocked kitchens, perks like unlimited PTO, dogs with job titles, and a general emphasis of team cohesion is the common blueprint used.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these pieces are awesome (and things we advocate as well). However, it’s not our unique identity. It’s not what gets us excited about the work we do nor why humans typically join the company.

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For us, it’s about the tough tasks. The infinite challenges. The roads seldom others take because the vision is demanding and its success too dubious. That is what keeps us band of misfits motivated.

So when it came to attempt the illustration of this culture through a single web page, what better medium than the NationBuilder jobs page itself?

The reason why

There is no opaque layer on NationBuilder’s vision and commitment to customers. It’s peppered throughout our website and talked about on stage. What was lacking is how this same foundation gets translated to the people that keep the company moving.

Like any company or community, our values have expanded with growth. So, in order to be successful in narrating this culture to those who might be interested in becoming part of it, we needed to design the window looking in - and do it well.  

The important elements

It all started with a tagline: we do hard things. That is the precise input Jim Gilliam gave when asked how he’d summarize what we do at NationBuilder. Aside from being quite true, it accurately captures the key points of our culture following it down the jobs page, which is why you’ll find the statement overlaying the lead hero image in 100px.

Language was also a critical element to the format. By foregoing the mention of perks and keeping it strictly culture-oriented, we were able to stay on message of being a mission first and a company second. If you’re sold on the mission, everything else is peripheral.

Further to the language, you’ll notice “role” is used in place of “job” on the buttons located throughout the page. In fact, “job” isn’t used anywhere in the main content despite it being, literally, the jobs page. We feel “role” is more representative of fitting into a community and actually defining what your purpose and path is in that community.

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The flavor

The overall job page aesthetic is on-brand with the rest of the NationBuilder site albeit with some minor augmentation. The color scheme and Proxima Nova font remain consistent, the page feeling a bit more light and airy compared with a number of other pages throughout NationBuilder.com. We got rid of the top nav menu as well, minimizing distractions by making it all about role discovery.   

The grid system was also slightly different for this page, demonstrated by a video we placed in the slider that feels native to it but snaps into its own container in the mobile viewport.

Photography is key

Though there is often lots of content required to explain all NationBuilder entails, we always strive for a balance of text and imagery. The jobs page is no exception.

We had some beautiful shots of the office and staff that we wanted to showcase in various formats. In order to stick with that “light and airy” theme in both design and functionality, we used a couple of jQuery libraries; specifically a combination of Ken Wheeler’s slick slider and Noël Bossart’s Featherlight lightbox.

We took advantage of the horizontal auto-scroll for one image slider and the manual version for both images and staff testimonials. The lightbox implementation offered a nice touch for a closer look at some of the photos.

Finally, we were keen on making sure that as a visitor navigates to the jobs listing page and subsequent role, they were able to be reminded of the NationBuilder culture - a visual representation of breadcrumbs if you will.

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Post-launch

We’re delighted with the result. The page represents our character extremely well, doesn’t overwhelm the viewer, and comes equipped with simple navigation.

Unfortunately, time and team are always at a premium. There are plenty of other cultural elements we would have liked to include and might do so in the future.

Nonetheless, staying true to message, we’d rather be better than right.

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